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Government suspends administrative court reform

June 3rd, 2019

Commenting on the government’s announcement that it is cancelling the introduction of a new level of administrative courts, two liberal pundits speculate that after the European Parliamentary Election, Fidesz is trying to strike a conciliatory note with the European People’s Party.

On Wednesday, Gergely Gulyás, the Minister in Charge of the PM’s Office said that the government is shelving plans for a new tier of specialized administrative courts, due to be set up from 2020. The idea of a separate system of administrative courts under the auspices of the Minister of Justice has been criticized both by the Venice Commission, the EU and the Hungarian opposition, as threatening the independence of the judiciary. Mr Gulyás dismissed such allegations, but said the government will not push through its reform while it is embroiled in international controversy. He also dismissed speculation that the decision is motivated by the desire of Fidesz to remain in the European People’s Party.

On 444.hu, Péter Erdélyi and Péter Magyari interpret the suspension of the plans of the administrative courts as a conciliatory effort towards the government’s critics in the European conservative mainstream. The liberal pundits speculate that Fidesz wants to regain its place in the European People’s Party, from which it was suspended in late March, before the European elections. Erdélyi and Magyari add that the introduction of the administrative courts could have also resulted in tough EU retaliation including cuts in structural funds to Hungary. The liberal commentators take it for granted that the reform would weaken the independence of the judiciary and believe that it could therefore frighten away Western investors.

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